• BURN MEDIA
    • Memeburn
      Tech-savvy insight and analysis
    • Motorburn
      Because cars are gadgets
    • Ventureburn
      Startup news for emerging markets
    • Jobsburn
      Digital industry jobs for the anti 9 to 5!

All posts by Andy Walker

  • MIT boffins create visual microphone with packet of chips

    Here's an age old conundrum: If a tree falls in a forest, and no one's around to hear it, does it make a sound? Well, if a video camera was recording the incident, then theoretically, yes. Thanks to an MIT, Microsoft and Adobe joint venture, a nifty processing algorithm has been developed that can extract audio from pixelated vibrations captured in the frames of video. As the accompanying YouTube snippet explains, researchers point a high-speed camera, positioned behind a pane of soundproof glass at a bag of potato chips while a rather dated oration of "Mary had a Little Lamb" is...

  • This $30 Android smartphone will bridge the gap between smart and feature phone

    Smartphones are getting more powerful (and some, even cheaper) with each passing day. While Apple and company are locked in a vicious technological scrap, cramming more features into even smaller frames, other manufacturers are slimming down excessively on their hardware. And the latest contender for cheapest smartphone in the world comes courtesy of Chinese manufacturer AMGOO, with a handset costing just US$30. Dubbed the "AM505 Spark", AMGOO's device is a "you get what you pay for" type of deal, but it aims to bridge the gap between smartphone and feature phones. High-end specifications you'd usually expect from an Android device...

  • Windows XP, 7 still reigns supreme as Windows 8 gets minor UI fixes with ‘Update 2’

    As if Windows updates weren't hard enough to keep track of already, Microsoft is readying yet another vaguely-named bundle just in time for August's edition of Patch Tuesday. And akin to the previous upgrade, it will be dubbed Windows 8.1 Update 2, not Windows 8.2. Why the marketing department at Redmond decided to go with the "Update x" moniker is beyond understanding. Regardless, this update is being billed as a minor UI fixer alongside a few more backend stability and safety patches. So those expecting -- nay praying -- for the Start Menu's return, will need to wait until 2015. Users...

  • US inventor 3D-prints castle in his backyard

    3D printing will undoubtedly change the world in a big way. The technology allows for the easy creation of rather complex structures, so one could imagine its value in areas like construction. That sentence nicely leads to this revelation, that a construction guru in the U.S. has 3D printed a castle in his back garden from a bespoke cement printer. Printing cement is not a common practice, and comes with its own set of problems and advantages. Currently, only one other company is known for diving head-first into the practice, until now. Andrey Rudenko, through his engineering expertise and love for...

  • Modbook turns MacBook Pro into iTablet for a mere $2000

    Users usually purchase MacBook Pros because they are, in fact, great laptops. Apple fans requiring a handheld, touchscreen machine are drawn towards Cupertino's iPad range, which has recently taken a bit of a sales hit. But Modbook wants to take the best of each Apple machine, converting a hefty MacBook Pro into a US$1999, 15.4" Retina-screened keyboardless monster. While Microsoft billed the Surface Pro 3 as the tablet to replace the laptop, Modbook suggests that its machine could replace the workstation entirely. According to the creators, a genuine MacBook Pro system is ripped apart, put back together and what emerges from...

  • This handmade silk leaf produces oxygen and is ideal for space travel

    Plants are those useful green things humans cultivate from seed for food, or chop down to provide materials like paper. Most importantly, we also need the oxygen they provide to survive. A new development led by an RCA graduate student has blossomed the first oxygen-producing "man-made biological" leaf, which could be used for future space travel or to fight climate change. The "synthetic biological" leaf created by Julian Melchiorri may be a glaring oxymoron, but is perhaps the only way to explain his creation adequately. It functions wholly like a naturally-grown leaf, producing oxygen through photosynthesis and looks pretty hanging from...

  • Smouldering smartphones: a brief history of mobile phone fires and how to avoid them

    Smartphones are a mixture of electronic circuitry and potentially volatile substances, or at least that's what victims of spontaneous cellphone combustion believe. There's a dotted history of sparking, fiery smartphones while simply sitting on a desk or plugged into the wall charging. Most recently, a 13-year-old American girl woke to find her Samsung Galaxy S4 smouldering under her pillow in the middle of the night. Covering the device may not be a good idea in any situation, as all electrical devices require some amount of cooling air surrounding them. Keeping a phone beneath a pillow -- mistake or not -- is...

  • The flash and the furious: 11 of the internet’s greatest custom computers

    There are few things in this world more entertaining than stripping a device of its guts, just to put it back together again. Building something from scratch also comes pretty close. Fun turns to dread (or in some cases, panicked laughter) when the power button's flick fails to lurch it into life. Failing miserably is, thankfully largely part of the experience. These PC customisers and builders have definitely not failed by any means. From adorning their machines with glowing LEDs and glass panels, to cooling them with aircraft-sized turbines and water-pulsing pipes, building custom computing devices to take over little...

  • Nanospheres to make lithium batteries four times juicier

    Batteries are wonderful creatures, powering our digital lives for days at a time. But as thirsty mobile devices' need for power grows, the current generation of lithium ion packs just can't keep up. Researchers have now discovered a novel way to squeeze more juice from the modules, promising up to four times longer lasting charges in the process. Lithium is dubbed the "Holy Grail" substance, but it's traditionally too troublesome to use as a solitary substance in a battery. The negative anode -- where electrons exit the battery and into the device -- is usually made partially of graphite, a...

  • 128GB? No thanks: ‘RRAM’ offers terabytes of storage for future smartphones

    Data researchers based at Rice University, Texas, have developed a breakthrough storage technology that could bring terabytes to smartphone within the very near future. Up to now, mobile devices have had access to (a relatively puny) 128GB flash-based storage in some cases, but it's both uncommon and massively expensive. "RRAM", or resistive random access memory, promises to balloon this capacity by "tens or even hundreds of times as much data" as currently available. The modules work much like flash memory (the current technology housed in mobile devices and SSDs), but instead of using charged transistors to store data, it uses electrical...